Continuing Education And Career Advancement
Once you have completed all of these steps to becoming a police officer, you will still have plenty to learn. Nothing beats on-the-job experience to show you all of the specialized areas police officers might want or need to learn more about. The best officers are never done learning.
Similar to other industries, officers must meet continuing education requirements in order to renew their license. For example, Minnesota police officer requirements mandate a minimum of 48 hours of continuing education within the three-year licensing period in order to maintain their license.
In addition, active officers are required to train annually in use of force and once every five years in emergency vehicle operations/pursuit driving. Specialized training may also be directed by your police department based on federal and local needs. Departments might also incentivize other education opportunities to encourage their officers forward. Additional training or credentials may be required for those looking to climb the police ranks.
How Important Is Accreditation
Accreditation refers to an outside organization reviewing a particular school or program to ensure it meets certain standards of quality. Accreditation is important for police training programs because it serves as a mark of quality graduates who complete their education and training can be confident that what they have earned will be accepted by future employers and peers. The specific entities that offer accreditation will vary depending on the program. For instance, many associate or bachelors degree programs will not be accredited at the program level, but the school offering the degree will be accredited. This will usually be a regional or national accrediting organization recognized by the US Department of Education.
As for the accreditation of police training academies, the most prominent is the Commission on Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies, or CALEA.
Pass Law Enforcement Exam
There are various law enforcement exams depending on the jurisdiction as well as the police academy you have chosen. These exams often have the following sections:
This section includes a combination of multiple-choice, true-false and short essay questions that assess a candidate’s knowledge of the job. Many questions test your grammar, reading comprehension and mathematical skills. These questions may also test your logic and decision-making skills in job-relevant scenarios.
In this portion, candidates are given a topic or prompt to write a long-form essay. This test focuses on your ability to use logic, express your thoughts and ideas clearly as well as provide your reasoning and evidence to support your claims.
This part is typically given in the form of an interview, often with a hiring manager from the department or even a member of the community. Its purpose is to evaluate your verbal communication skills and general presentation.
All applicants must receive a passing grade on the law enforcement exam before being accepted into a police training academy.
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How Long Does It Take To Become A Police Officer In Ontario
There is no set time period for the hiring process. It varies between police agencies and also depends on the successful completion of all the stages in the application process. You can expect to set aside 6 months for the application process.
If you are not successful in any part of the process, some police agencies may require a one-year waiting period before another application can be submitted.
To find out how long it takes at the police agency of your choice, contact the police agency directly.
You can also read more about the general guidelines for becoming a police officer in Canada here.
Undergraduate Degrees For A Police Officer
Some police departments require new recruits to have a bachelors degree in criminal justice. Others require just a bachelors degree. For a career as a police officer, the best undergraduate degrees are in criminal justice. Many schools have areas of focus within their criminal justice programs. Criminal justice degree programs include courses in research, statistics and procedures as well as communications and ethics. In addition to criminal justice degrees, there are other good bachelors degrees that will prepare you for a career as a police officer. A BA in foreign language includes liberal arts courses and history and culture courses in the language you choose. A bachelors degree in foreign language prepares police recruits to work directly with members of their community who speak another language, helping to establish trust and rapport.
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Other Helpful Skills And Experience
Additional skills, such as physical strength and stamina, can help candidates meet police officer requirements. To keep up with daily job requirements, apprehend suspects, and pass required physical tests for entry into the field, officers and detectives must maintain good physical shape and demonstrate strength. Employers see prior military or security experience as a plus, since these candidates undergo previous physical and firearm training.
Moreover, police officers must possess good written and oral communication skills to effectively give detailed incident reports and speak with the public during fact-gathering. Law enforcement agents may also speak with suspects who communicate in other languages. To help diverse communities, officers should understand many different perspectives and display empathy. Law enforcement agents must also practice good judgment by determining the most effective way to solve problems.
Officers holding higher positions, such as detectives and fish and game wardens, may need critical thinking skills and perception to determine in advance why suspects act in certain ways. Since the public looks to officers for assistance in emergency situations, these professionals become highly visible community members. In their public roles, officers often serve as role models and must possess leadership skills.
Salary And Career Outlook
Police officer salaries vary depending on many factors, including job type, location, and additional compensation and benefits. Some police departments even offer higher pay for officers with college degrees and who speak multiple languages.
|POLICE OFFICERS AND DETECTIVES||$65,170|
According to the BLS, the lowest-paid police officers earned less than $37,710, while the highest-paid officers earned an annual salary exceeding $109,620 as of 2019. Police officers often earn additional pay through overtime and special assignments.
In this field, individuals can increase their salaries through education and job experience. According to the BLS, detectives and federal agents earn the most of all police officers, taking home a median annual salary of $83,170 as of 2019. Aspiring federal police officers and detectives typically must possess a college degree and prior job experience.
As the need for public safety continues, the BLS projects employment for police to grow on pace with other occupations. Demand for police officers varies by location and depending on state and local budgets. Due to low job turnover, police candidates may face competition. Candidates with college degrees, law enforcement or military experience, and knowledge of other languages may stand out among job applicants.
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Training Institutions For Police Officers
Now that you know what options there are for becoming a police officer, its important to know where they are offered. There are many schools that exist to help you move into the law enforcement career of your choice. Here are the options:
These post-high school institutions focus their programs and curriculums on skill-oriented or hands-on training. This training can come in the form of what effectively amounts to an in-house police academy. Vocational and trade schools can provide the fastest way to obtain the training necessary to become a police officer and allow students to receive police academy training without attending the official police academy. Its also fairly affordable compared to earning a college degree. Keep in mind that graduation doesnt guarantee a job in law enforcement and may not result in an academic credential that provides opportunities for professional advancement.
Best for? Those confident in obtaining a job offer after graduation and want to serve as a police officer as quickly as possible.
Best for? Students who would like to earn a college degree along with their law enforcement training.
Best for? Those who love serving their country or community will benefit from the rewarding experience that can come from military service.
Best for? Aspiring police officers who want an extra way to stand out from the pack of applicants, as well as those looking for federal work.
Variety In Job Duties
A police officer experiences much variety in their day-to-day assignments. They may spend one shift issuing citations for traffic violations, like speeding or failing to adhere to road signs, and another shift responding to a motor vehicle accident. Furthermore, a police officer may be responsible for responding to a crime scene, gathering evidence and interviewing various people.
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S To Become A Police Officer
You may want to know how to become a police officer, which involves several necessary steps.
EARN A HIGH SCHOOL DIPLOMA OR GED
The first step to becoming a police officer is to graduate with a high school diploma, a GED, or an equivalent. Some federal agencies and police departments require candidates to complete some college coursework or a degree.
COMPLETE OTHER REQUIREMENTS
Applicants must also complete basic requirements, including reaching the minimum age requirement , holding U.S. citizenship, passing a criminal background check, and meeting specific physical standards .
OBTAIN A DEGREE
This career does not typically require a degree, but bachelors programs can help students develop additional skills and become specific types of police officer, such as federal agent or fish and game warden. These officers usually earn higher salaries. A college degree can also help students learn a foreign language, an asset in specific regions and federal agencies. Some agencies and departments require college coursework.
ATTEND A TRAINING ACADEMY
Before becoming a police officer, applicants usually attend training academies. Academy students complete coursework and practical exercises in first aid, firearm usage, and emergency response. The training academy may require an entrance exam or a physical fitness test.
Is A Degree In Criminal Justice Worth The Effort
As you consider the merits of obtaining a degree in criminal justice, it will probably occur to you that you can become a police officer more quickly if you forgo the degree and just sign on with a police force, where you will be given basic training in the police academy. However, you won’t just be passing up possible opportunities to earn a higher salary in the future, but also maybe even the opportunity to work in a variety of interesting fields as your career advances.
Some of the jobs holders of criminal justice degrees might also go for are legal assistant, paralegal, detective, criminal investigator, forensic science technician, police supervisor, probation officer, corrections officer, security guard, fraud investigator, FBI agent, CIA agent, U.S. postal inspector, immigration and customs enforcement agent, DEA agent, Secret Service agent, blood splatter analyst, U.S. marshal, and transit and railroad police.
But aside from the great career diversity the criminal justice field offers, a degree in CJ also provides students with a richer background that will help them put their skills to better use once they begin work. Criminal justice instructors generally bring their own varied experiences into the classroom, and can help students develop a deeper understanding of the challenges they will face in the field and the best ways to respond to them.
It could be the Best Decision You Ever Make!
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Impress At Your Police Officer Interview
Many hopeful applicants will be offered an interview during the hiring process. This is an opportunity to get to know you on a personal level, and sometimes that can be enough to land you that coveted job. Here are some questions you might encounter during that interview:
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Certificate In Law Enforcement
A certificate in criminal justice or criminology is an opportunity for individuals to gain specific instruction in an area of law enforcement. Since a certificate consists of a few classes and can be completed in a few months, the certificate can also provide an opportunity to get started on an associate degree without having to commit to the two years just yet. Certificates are also great in that some department require applicants to have some college credits, but do not require a full degree. Some of the courses available in a criminology or criminal justice certificate program are listed below:
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Recommended Online Criminal Justice Degrees
Contact schools for information on enrollment, tuition, and aid
To start your career in law enforcement, you will need to start by getting the right education. Many jobs require an undergraduate degree, but you should be sure to research your prospective career path to fully understand what training you will need. Therefore, you should take a look at some of the best degree options that available for people who are seeking to start a career in the field of law enforcement.
Day In The Life Of A Police Officer
When we think of a police officer performing his or her duties, we typically think of them patrolling the streets, arresting criminals, issuing citations for traffic violations, and even rescuing cats from trees. However, their day involves much more than just those duties. Their duties include the following.
- Patrolling specific areas
- Responding to both non-emergency and emergency calls
- Obtains and servicing warrants
- Conducting traffic and issuing tickets
- Arresting individuals suspected of breaking the law
- Filling out forms and writing reports
- Preparing cases for court
- Gathering and securing evidence found at crime scenes
- Handling domestic abuse cases
It should be noted that the department and geographic location of the police officer play a big role in determining their job description of duties. Their varied duties have an important part in why there is so much to learn regarding how to become a police officer.
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Police Officer Preparation Beyond The Degree
Before an officer officially joins the police force and regardless of their college major and level of education they go through intense training at one of the many police academies. Police academy training programs can take anywhere from 12 to 24 weeks, so new officers should plan to spend months training for their role in law enforcement. Training in a police academy typically involves learning about local ordinances, constitutional law and civil rights, as well as the skills to investigate accidents and crimes. Everything aspect of police work, from traffic control to self-defense, is taught in the training academy to make sure that new officers are prepared for work on the job. Being a cop is tough, so for training to be valuable, it must be comprehensive and challenging, too.
If you have a good education, earn great grades and pass the police academy training program, you will likely find success in getting hired as a police officer, no matter what major you choose. Being familiar with the law and the criminal justice system prior to applying to work as a police officer can certainly hold value, but choosing a specific major isnt a prerequisite to the academy training program where you will learn the fundamentals of police work.
Choosing The Right Degree For Law Enforcement
Selecting the degree that is right for you is a decision that you should make after conducting thorough research. After all, the career path that you choose will likely be the focus of your life for several decades. If you choose a degree program that you will enjoy, you are likely to be motivated to get a high-paying job and to achieve further advancement. Therefore, you can set yourself up for success by putting in the effort to conduct your own research before diving into the degree of your choice.
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Associate Degree In Law Enforcement
An associate degree in law enforcement prepares graduates for police careers by providing the information necessary to pass police academy entrance exams. The associate degree usually takes two years to complete, is a well-rounded degree with general education courses mixed in, and serves as a stepping stone to the bachelors degree. Because each associate degree program will be tailored to the requirements of the local and regional law enforcement departments, curriculums will vary. However, some of the classes incoming students can expect include:
Federal Police Force Salary & Benefits
If youre interested in the federal police force, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police offers new hires $53,144/year with an incremental increase to $86,110 within 3 years of employment. Benefits include paid vacation days, an RCMP pension plan, medical, dental and family health plans and group life insurance. The RCMP also offers generous maternity and parental allowances as well as financial support for continuing education and professional development opportunities.
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Many Opportunities To Stay Physically Fit
If staying physically fit on the job is important to you, a career as a police officer may be a good option for you. A police officer may have to chase and arrest suspects, which requires a great amount of strength and endurance. A police officer also trains to pass a physical fitness test before receiving a job offer, and they also work to pass annual renewal tests to ensure they remain physically fit.